The Matchup: Stanford (5-4) @ Northwestern (8-1)
Location: Welsh-Ryan Arena (Evanston, IL)
TV: Big Ten Network (1:00 PM Saturday December 19th)
Radio: WGN 720 AM
Fun Fact: Stanford holds a 4-1 series advantage over NU.
About the Game
The Wildcats move towards the end of the non-conference season with their last major test before the Big Ten. So far NU has passed virtually every test they’ve faced, but Stanford has beaten NU three straight seasons. Last year the Cardinal defeated NU 65-59 when they held off a late NU rally. If Northwestern is going to break the Stanford winning steak they will have to continue their fantastic offensive play and play solid defense against a Stanford team which features a couple big scorers.
Stanford’s top scorer and rebounder is Landry Fields. The 6-7 Fields is a senior who scores 22.9 ppg and averages 8.8 rebounds per contest. Fields is the a versatile player and it will be interesting to see what defense NU plays. Bill Carmody seemed to be trying to force the ‘Cats to work on man-to-man and the 2-3 matchup against North Carolina A&T and North Florida, but overall NU still looked a lot more comfortable in the 1-3-1. Being able to use all three defenses could help NU against Stanford.
Stanford’s other big offensive threat 6-4 sophomore guard Jeremy Green. Green is a very athletic player who scores 15.7 ppg and grabs 4.1 rpg.
The athletic skill Stanford has makes the Cardinal a tough team to play against on offense. They will play a very aggressive pressure defense. NU will need Michael “Juice” Thompson to play his usual solid game and guys like Jeremy Nash, Drew Crawford, and Alex Marcotullio will also have to be solid with the ball. Hopefully NU will be able to get some easy baskets on backdoors which will setup NU’s shooters for open shots.
In contrast to past seasons one place where NU might be able to out dual Stanford is on the glass. Other than Fields, Stanford doesn’t have a player who averages more than 5.0 rebounds per game. 6-9 forwards Jack Trotter and Andrew Zimmermann are 2nd and 3rd respectively on the Cardinal in hitting the glass at 4.7 and 4.2 rpg. NU will start Luke Mirkovic or Kyle Rowley who are both bigger than either Cardinal forward alongside John Shurna who at 6-8 is almost as big and has shown to be very solid rebounder both offensively and defensively.
It is too bad students are away on break right now as this could have been a contest where NU had a huge home court advantage. As it stands, NU will need good support from what will probably be a large than unusual late non-conference crowd. Between that somewhat home court advantage and NU’s consistent play combined with Stanford’s inconsistency this year, I think NU wins in a game with a similar path to NU’s game against Iowa State or N.C. State. Northwestern, 78 Stanford, 70